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Published: May 08, 2023

Commencement Speakers Encourage Graduates to Help Others

The more than 1,800 graduates honored at The University of Tampa’s 156th commencement ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Saturday were left with at least one clear directive: help others.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Drushal ’89 spoke during the morning ceremony, which was for graduates of the Sykes College of Business and the College of Arts and Letters.

Commencement Speakers Encourage Graduates to Help OthersHonoring more than 1,800 graduates, commencement was broken up into two ceremonies. Photo by Nick George '20

“People won’t remember your significant work achievements, awards, your school achievements or how much you increased sales, boosted income or whatever,” he said. “What they will remember is how you treated them, whether you understood them, whether you trusted them and how these elements changed under periods of increased adversity.”

Student challenge speaker Emil Jacob Poovathoor echoed this sentiment, encouraging his fellow graduates to extend their arms to others.

“Strive to be the first person someone thinks of when they are grateful for what they have accomplished in life,” he said.

“I challenge you, Class of ’23, to have your legacy be more than what you accomplished, but what you helped others accomplish, too.”

Mayor Jane Castor ’81 spoke in the afternoon to graduates in the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, and the College of Natural and Health Sciences. She had similar advice.

“No one arrived here without the help of others. Be grateful and say thank you to someone this afternoon and every day hereafter,” Castor said.

“Gratitude is a wonderful characteristic and looks good on everyone.”

The two ceremonies honored 1,841 graduates representing 11 countries; 45% of graduates were from Florida.

There were 1,622 bachelor’s degree candidates and 219 master’s candidates; 46 MBAs were awarded.

Afternoon student challenge speaker Savannah Williams left the class of 2023 with another empowering challenge: to leave with the belief they can change the world.

"I challenge you to let your achievements inspire you to create more, and to allow that to be your motivation to never give up, to look at life as an unending list of opportunities, and most importantly, to always believe in yourself."

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